Monday, February 4, 2013

Precious Metal (Balls of Copper and Brass Part II)

A few weeks ago, I related to you the sordid tale of metal theft from the station where I closed out my career. As I had some business to take care of in the area and I felt kind of bad my original post had not been accompanied by any photos, I felt a side trip was in order. One of my objectives was to show you the scene of the crime, the other was to get a pulse on how bad the problem of metal theft had become since my departure seventeen months ago. I didn't have to look very hard or very far.

Open or closed?

 These OS&Y control valves are located 390 yards from the front door of the Station. They supply the domestic water and fire sprinklers to a pallet washing facility. At first glance, they appear to be in the closed position. The valve stems are not visibly protruding above the control wheel, therefore they must be closed. It's not until a closer examination that the reality of the situation is revealed.

 A battery operated saws-all, a minute or two and a little elbow grease. Done, a couple pounds of brass gone, a several thousand dollar repair bill in store for the property owner.

This is a similar assembly at the DMV, which is located right next door to the valve assembly pictured above.

I'm just guessin' that these red valve stem protection devices were kind of like shutting the barn door after the horse ran off.  The shiny brass valve stems indicate that they were recently replaced, likely after the original ones were stolen. The stem protectors and shiny stems are a common sight in the area.

These back-flow prevention device covers are extremely common as well.

The theft of back-flow prevention valves has been a common occurrence for quite a while. We have had people knock on the door of the station, advising us that one had been stolen, allowing mass quantities of water to shoot into the air. We would jump on the rig and go to the reported location, shutting down the water supply if we could. We would then try to track down an RP and tell them of the situation. A few times, we on-sited similar situations, just missing the thieves by a few minutes.

In the case of Metal Thief vs. Fire Station 13, the act was a little more intimate.

The victim in this abhorrent act is clearly visible in the above photo. As obtrusive and ugly as it is, it didn't deserve to be so violently removed from the station. The perpetrator likely backed his vehicle to this point, then hooked up to the manifold and took  off. I am told the handicapped parking sign was collateral damage, it was traumatically removed as well.

The small arched window to the left of the  manifold is in the captain's head, the dorm is just off-frame to the left of that. I'm sure the on-duty captain thought the world was coming to an end when he heard the manifold being amputated.

Fortunately, though the manifold was removed, it was not retained. Though a few pieces had to be replaced, the majority of it was able to be reinstalled and it has been restored to it's place of glory on the front wall of station #13. I am told that Eddie, the building services supervisor, has been told to figure out a way to discourage further theft attempts. I am sure he will come up with something.

Frankly, I was always surprised the thing was in front of the station anyways. It is ugly as a mud fence and it kind of spoils the beauty of the station. As relocation would be a costly endeavor, I'm guessing that the anti-theft remedy will either be camouflage or some type of enclosure. Personally, I'm for hiding it.

It appears that despite recent laws and regulation regarding the sale and purchase of scrap metal, the theft of it continues unabated. This particular time, it kind of close to home. Until metal thieves are strung up from trees or at least caned, it's probably going to continue to be a problem. I'd like to write more on this subject, but I've got to go hide my trash can full of empty beer cans. I can't afford to lose them.

Thanks for reading,


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